I had dinner with an old friend recently. I met Margaret Grove way back when I was a brand new mum and attending Nursing Mothers meetings. Margaret now holds a key post at Australian Breastfeeding Association and as you might expect, our conversation turned to the current breastfeeding rates. In Australia, these are static at around 30 percent at 6 months, falling to a very disappointing 10 percent at 12 months. This despite the WHO recommendations for a minimum breastfeeding period of 2 years.
We pondered the many reasons, the failures of so many in the healthcare system, the rise and rise of the commercial 'alternatives', but also reflected on the new approach which is to emphasise the normality of breastfeeding. After all, breast is the default way of feeding mammals so breast or the bottle should never be a simple choice, even though the formula manufacturers have done their best to make it so. We should never have to read nonsense about breastfeeding being ‘better’, nor do we need any more studies showing its ‘benefits’. Infant formula was designed for those rare occasions when Nature fails, but just as IVF and C-secs were designed as similar last-resorts, the man-made, emergency, fall-back positions are embraced far too frequently and as if they were simple equivalents. The fact of the matter is, they are not!
Support and encourage the normality of breastfeeding - lead by example. Nurse your baby or toddler whenever and wherever and so others will see you!